For the most part, St. Cloud State sophomore Kevin Levandoski is a typical Division II college basketball player. Last year as a freshman, the 6’0” guard played about 8 minutes a game appearing in 28 of 29 games for the Huskies. Although he averaged only 1.4 points a game last season, this year with another year of experience under his belt, it appears that this year he will gain some more playing time off the St. Cloud State bench.
Michigan State freshman Denzel Valentine fights for the ball with St. Cloud State sophomore Keven Levandoski, nephew of Tom Izzo. (Photo Credit- Al Goldis/AP)
However, what makes Levandoski not so typical is that he just so happens to have a very well known uncle. That very well known uncle is none other than Michigan State head basketball coach Tom Izzo. And on Friday, November 2nd, Levandoski got to square off against his uncle as St. Cloud State traveled to East Lansing to take on the Spartans in what would be Michigan State’s final preseason exhibition game of 2012.
For a large part of the game, St. Cloud State hung tough with the Spartans and even led in the early going when Levandoski came off the bench and hit a three to put his team up 10-9.
“The first shot he took was a three and it was right in our face,” Izzo said of Levandoski’s shot.
After that, the remainder of the first half was played very sloppily by Michigan State, as they turned the ball over 11 times but still managed to pull away a bit, leading at the half, 33-26.
In the second half, St. Cloud State continued to hang around, trailing by as little as ten points with ten minutes to go in the game. However, Michigan State would eventually close the game out, coming away with a victory of 62-49.
Michigan State was led by Adreian Payne, who had 11 points and 11 rebounds, Keith Appling, 13 points, 4 assists and Derrick Nix, who finished with 14 points and 7 rebounds. Freshman guard Gary Harris also played well, scoring 9 points in the first half before cramping up in the second, Harris would wind up with 11 on 3-8 shooting.
Nevertheless, this game showed similar flaws in the Spartans game just as the first one did. For starters, Michigan State once again struggled with turnovers, amassing a total of 20 for this game, four of which were again from freshman Denzel Valentine, who is just trying to do a little bit too much out there. Also, Michigan State had a hard time from the free throw line again, this time missing 13 freebies, going just 15-28 from that area.
Some of the turnover problems, though, can be attributed to the fact that Izzo is constantly substituting players in and out. As a result, it is difficult for players to find a rhythm because some of these guys aren’t used to playing with each other quite yet. Regardless, it would still be nice to see that turnover number come down a little bit.
Another cause of concern from this game was the absence of sophomore guard Brandan Kearney and freshman forward Matt Costello. Kearney sat out with an apparent abdominal injury while Costello sat out for the second straight game after coming down real hard in practice. Izzo says it’s still questionable whether these guys will play against Connecticut or not.
“Costello really took a nasty fall, he’s got a bad bad bruise,” Izzo said. “I”d say Costello has a chance but if he does he just hasn’t played at all. Kearney, I hope he has a chance because the one thing he gives us: He does his job. He knows what he can do and what he can’t do and he doesn’t try to do what he can’t do.”
Looking ahead, Michigan State will have to sort out these issues over the course of the next week before they travel to Germany to take on Connecticut next Friday to kick off the 2012 college basketball season for the second straight year.
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